TL;DR

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a method of verifying to an online visitor that they are actually visiting a website that represents you, rather than someone pretending to represent you for malicious purposes.

With the explosion of online traffic and, in particular commerce, there has been a similar rise in concern over how to make sure that users are not being misled or taken advantage of by malicious websites. The preservation of confidence in security is paramount to keeping web growth going, so a crucial part of that is the usage of SSL certificates. In essence, an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a method of verifying to an online visitor that they are actually visiting a website that represents you.

The certificate is created by first generating a Certificate Signing Request, or CSR. Your web host/provider can generate this for you (it should be generated on the server on which the website resides), but the important thing to know is that it is an encoded set of characters that contains information about your organization. Some of this info includes the name, country, state, etc. The CSR will also contain a key that is used for verification purposes. This request is then sent to a reputable Certificate Authority that can issue an SSL certificate after requesting supporting documentation, and in some cases, an audit. The certificate can then be set up by your web hosting provider or web developer.

Once your certificate is installed, visitors to your website will see a green “lock” icon on the address bar in their web browser. Clicking on this bar will show information about the site owner, verifying details and the organization that verified the website’s identity. In addition, starting in July Google will be updating Chrome so that non-secured websites display a “Not Secure” warning in the address bar instead of nothing or the green lock for secured sites. This will be combined with a penalty to web search standings. Given that Chrome holds approximately 50% or browser market share, your website can’t afford not to have a valid SSL certificate set up.

If you have further questions, feel free to contact us or call at 585-200-3182